I’ll play a dangerous game here and make a couple of assumptions:
If you saw El Salvador livewire striker Rodolfo Zelaya against the United States on Sunday, and if you have a dog in the MLS fight, you want that guy for your team.
That’s the first assumption. The second one: You want him, like, yesterday.
It’s always dangerous to get too excited about a small scouting sample; I’m the first to say so. Then again, he’s not exactly new, now with 17 goals for his country.
Besides, it certainly is tempting to crave the dogged 25-year-old’s services after watching his one-man-army act Sunday against the U.S. back line, isn’t it?
Zelaya helped made Nick Rimando work in Sunday’s first half and made the U.S. rear guard look a bit silly as he blew by one defender after another, ultimately felled by DaMarcus Beasley (in a moment that should remind everyone, Beasley is not a natural defender.) Zelaya then coolly finished his penalty kick against goalkeeper with a good history of stopping them.
He sometimes made U.S. center backs Clarence Goodson and Matt Besler look too stationary with his speedy movement.
(MORE: United States cruises past El Salvador in Gold Cup quarterfinal)
Oh, and this: consider that Zelaya scored all four of El Salvador’s goals in the tournament, and you can see why his time appears to have arrived. Skillful, tenacious and with a nose for goal, he looks a little like Carlos Ruiz from back in the day – although presumably without all the baggage.
After two years at Mexico’s Leon and an injury-interrupted loan spell in with Russia’s Alania Vladikavkaz, the Salvadoran is back in his home country with Alianza. Translation, it probably wouldn’t take a king’s ransom to buy the guy, especially since he has just six months left on his contract. If the Salvadoran Primera Division club wants to cash in, it has to be now. Otherwise Zelaya can move without compensation in January.